After nearly ten years as a laboratory technician, Kelly Bannister equipped herself with a new set of skills in order to ready herself for a promising future in health care.
Kelly Bannister spent almost ten years working as a scientist and research assistant before she decided to take the plunge and return to study in order to advance her career.
"Medical science has always interested me – in fact, it's a passion," Bannister says.
"After completing a Bachelor of Biological Science and working as a scientist and research assistant, I saw opportunities to secure a future in the healthcare industry and gain a deeper insight into medical science, so I decided to study the Master of Laboratory Medicine at RMIT."
Australia’s ageing population coupled with new developments in technology indicates that there will be strong demand for healthcare professionals over the next decade.
Healthcare is a varied and diverse industry requiring the hands-on specialist skills of nurses, surgeons and practitioners, however there is also a behind-the-scenes element which is often forgotten.
Medical scientists work in hospitals, private pathology laboratories, and state health laboratories, and as more people enter the health care system, demand for professionals is expected to increase.
Dr Peter Roche from RMIT University says the future for laboratory medicine is very promising.
"The ageing of the Australian population is expected to drive strong demand for pathology services and medical scientists," Roche says.
"There is also a shortage of medical scientists in a number of countries worldwide.
"The Master of Laboratory Medicine at RMIT offers people with a background in biological science a chance to up-skill in order to take full advantage of these opportunities.
"It’s also the only university in Victoria to offer an Australian Institute of Medical Scientists accredited postgraduate program."
Having graduated, Bannister has achieved her goal and is now working as a development scientist within a private medical firm.
"I work within an assay translation team at Minifab where we are working on lab-on-chip solutions for point-of-care testing diagnostics," she says.
"The ability to think laterally and troubleshoot complex problems is often challenging, however the training and development I gained during my postgraduate study really prepared me and taught me to face challenges head on."
Peter Roche said RMIT’s program has a strong focus on current industry practice.
"At RMIT we are constantly looking ahead in terms of technology to see what’s around the corner for the industry, in order to fully prepare our graduates for work," Roche says.
"Students choose to specialise in two major discipline areas from clinical biochemistry, haematology, histopathology/cytopathology, medical microbiology, transfusion and transplantation science – and as a result they are multi-skilled with a variety of employment opportunities."
Bannister agrees the Master of Laboratory Medicine is future-focused.
"My studies have provided a great insight and a completely new perspective into current pathology practises that I have been able to apply in my current role," Bannister says
"RMIT gave me a much broader appreciation of current diagnostic use and application, it also taught me to critically analyse sources of information and other technologies in the market place.
"Courses in transplantation and transfusion as well as haematology have been invaluable when looking at sample processing considerations and handling in my line of work."
Bannister says in her line of work, it’s easy to stay productive.
"The field is constantly evolving and there is never a dull moment," she says.
"Each new project presents a variety of new challenges but that makes the work both interesting and rewarding.
"I'm incredibly passionate about what I do, and motivation is never hard to find when you are doing what you love."
Story: Rebecca McGillivray